The outgoing Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday reflected on his four-year tenure as the head of the nation’s legislature and urged his colleagues to be wary of the transient nature of power.
He also reviewed the relationship between the executive and the legislature as well as his travails and concluded that he had no regrets in an apparent response to criticisms of the National Assembly by the executive, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari.
Explaining why power is transient, Saraki said, “This I know: whatever the capacity, we should always do our best to serve the interest of the people. We should also have it at the back of our minds that power is transient.”
He also took exceptions to the allegations that he and the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were not patriotic in the handling of affairs of the National Assembly in the last four years.
He maintained that the frictions between the executive and the legislature would not end with the Eighth National Assembly for as long as the former held the belief that it could always interfere with the affairs of the parliament, especially on the issue of budget.
He said, “It is important that I make some comments about Legislature-Executive relations. My own take is that if the Executive sees the National Assembly’s work on the budget as interference despite the provisions of the constitution, then there will continue to be problems between both arms of government.
“If the Presidency refuses to have engagements and consultations with the leadership of the National Assembly before the President submits the budget to the legislature, then there will continue to be frictions.
“If the Executive sees the failure of a few of its appointees to secure confirmation by the Senate as a disagreement, then the relationship will not improve.
“If the Executive encourages its appointees who fail to secure Senate confirmation to remain in office, then there will continue to be disagreement.
“If the Executive believes the Legislature is a rubber stamp without the right to question its actions, then it will be a subversion of the Principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.
“My advice is that both arms of government have a role to play in our quest for good governance and their leadership should work for cooperation and fruitful engagement.
Saraki, who described his last day in office as victory for democracy, commended his colleagues for their show of support and solidarity during his travails and trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
He said, “That I am here today, that you are here today, is a victory for democracy. It is a testament to what people can do when they come together for the greater good.
“This is also one of those occasions when the Supreme Creator reminds us, once again, that power does not reside in any one person.
“When I think of the many trials and tribulations we have faced as an institution, and my own personal travails particularly at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, I am humbled, because none of our achievements would have been possible without the support and cooperation of the entire members of this chamber.”
Assessing the Eighth Senate, Saraki said, “We can define ourselves by the record number of bills passed, motions cleared, resolutions adopted, petitions treated. We can also define ourselves by the belief that we fought for democracy, held government to account and made personal sacrifices. For some of us, sacrifices are still being made, owing to the fallout of some of the decisions taken. I have no regrets because, as first among equals, we bear collective responsibility for those decisions. As a leader, however, I take responsibility. The buck stops with me.
“In doing all that we did in this chamber, we always used to believe that poverty knew no party, religion, tribe or region. We came together in response to the needs of Nigerians as a whole, and we got the job done. It will be said of us that we were truly representatives of all our constituents. As we conclude the last plenary and the few more days of the 8th Senate, therefore, we should nurture the relationships we have built.”
The senators observed a one-minute silence in honour of their departed colleagues in the last one year including the late senators Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), Isiaka Adeleke (Osun West) and Bukar Mustapha (Katsina North).